Why Success is Accidental, in a way

 Have you ever noticed that when one thing is going well in life, other things seem to go better too? For example, you start exercising and you notice you’re feeling more confident at work, or your relationships are going really well and your health improves. Or, have you ever faced a change that you thought was going to be terrible, but when it happened turned out to be quite good, maybe even better than before?
When I first started working with a lot more private students last year, I was perplexed to notice a lot of variation in their experience. The students I was working with who were completely new to yoga were having massive breakthroughs and successes. They were reporting feeling better in their bodies, more focused and confident at work, losing weight, feeling happier, their relationships were improving. They were becoming dedicated yogis and it felt like a process of joy. It was phenomenal!
But then the students I had who came to work with me with a definite goal just didn’t seem to achieve as much. Sure, we got them where they wanted to be, but somehow it felt harder, and they weren’t reporting all these other things, and seemed to really struggle to maintain their practice.
Then I learned about a theory called ‘Obliquity’, by John Kay (see his TED talk here). This is the idea that complex goals are often best pursued indirectly. Here’s the reasoning: complex objectives tend to be imprecisely defined. They may contain elements that aren't necessarily compatible with each other. In practice, we can only learn about the nature of the objectives and how to achieve them during a process of experiment and discovery.

Examples provided are Apple and Microsoft (aren't they always?). These companies have been financially super successful while focussing on delivering a concept to people, whereas over the years a lot of companies whose main goal is profit, such as a lot of banks, have failed. 
The people I worked with who newer were open to this process of experiment and discovery. They had no preconceived ideas of how it should work or what it would or wouldn’t be compatible with. In yoga there’s a term for this called ‘aparigraha’ or non-grasping. When we hold on too tight to something we can sometimes suffocate possibility.
The students who had a definite idea about what they wanted actually stifled their experience by being definite about how it should look and what it would and would not be compatible with. 
Feeling happy, fulfilled and growing spiritually are complex goals. But it is perfectly reasonable and desirable to want them!
The good news is it means the most effective way to approach our goals is to be open, experimental and playful. Don’t focus on the big ticket items all the time. Focus on the steps along the way, be open to the path heading in a direction you didn’t expect, and make sure to enjoy the ride!
Lots of love